Media Room

Law firm Novak Druce latest to land new digs

February 10, 2010

by Tierney Plumb

Reno & Cavanaugh Reception Area

Intellectual Property law firm Novak Druce and Quigg LLP will move its D.C. office to 300 New Jersey Ave. NW in May, becoming the latest midsize law firm to capitalize on the down real estate market.
It is subleasing 26,317 square feet in the new Richard Rogers-designed trophy office building from another law firm, Jones Day. The lease is an approximately 9,000-square-foot expansion from Novak Druce’s current office space at 1300 Eye St. NW. The firm also recently moved to larger offices in San Francisco and West Palm Beach, Fla.

“We will be carrying out a nice uniform design element across the space,” said Greg Novak, managing partner and CEO of Novak Druce. “It was completed in the style we have in our San Francisco and West Palm Beach offices. It’s as if it’s been built for us. It’s one of those rare finds, where all the factors came into play.”

More and more, firms under 50,000 square feet are finding new space, rather than renovating, as more efficient spaces pop up.

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott LLC will soon move to new space on Pennsylvania Avenue NW, and Delaney McKinney LLP and Reno & Cavanaugh PLLC moved into new digs last year.

“Firms are finding there are opportunities to take space on the market that may be configured well for a law firm,” said James Allegro, a principal at Fox Architects LLC, which designed the Delaney and Reno spaces. “In the past, it was a gut and redo mentality. But today, firms are looking for opportunities to be more resourceful and green.”

Bella Schiro, senior vice president of occupancy analysis and planning in Jones Lang LaSalle Inc.’s District office, said smaller firms, where hierarchy might not be as entrenched, are open to offices of about 180 to 200 square feet. On average, traditional partner offices are 225 square feet, and traditional associate offices are 150 square feet.

In early 2009, Reno & Cavanaugh moved to a 10,000-square-foot office at 455 Massachusetts Ave. NW and embraced the universal office concept with standard-size offices in the 160- to 165-square-foot range.

“When firms are a little smaller like that, they are able to have a couple more collaborative-type spaces and can be more adventurous in space use,” Schiro said. “They might combine a library and research area with a coffee bar concept to create a more collaborative area.”

Fox Architects created a hub of overlapping functions for Reno, co-locating its cafe and coffee bar, resource library and part of its mail, copy area. Fox also designed a new space for Delaney McKinney, which moved last year to a 13,000-square-foot space at 5425 Wisconsin Ave. in Chevy Chase.

Eckert Seamans Cherin & Mellott found a space it loves — in a building next door. The firm will soon move to a newly designed 20,000-square-foot space at 1717 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, expanding slightly from its 1747 Pennsylvania Ave. NW location.

At 300 New Jersey Ave., Novak Druce will occupy the fifth floor — which functions as Jones Day’s internal expansion space — under a six-year, three-month term. The firm has an option to double in size by taking another floor in the building.

“It will more or less cover our rent obligation,” said Steven Teitelbaum, a partner at Jones Day, which leases the first five floors of the 10-story building.

Novak Druce mildly considered moving to an empty space in the Eye Street building vacated by law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP, but Novak said “there were too many renovations to be done” there too.
Studley Inc. Executive Vice President Mark O’Donnell and Vice Chairman Lois Zambo represented Novak Druce. Kurt Richter of Cassidy & Pinkard Colliers represented the sublandlord, Jones Day.